The Republican Party is so sexist that GOP women wish their party would act more like Democrats.
There are more women who have credibly accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment (22) than Republican women who are serving in the House of Representatives (13). No wonder GOP women are dismayed at the lack of support they receive from party leadership, as the New York Times reported Tuesday.
"We are so welcomed in the background to help volunteer, to help spread information, but when it comes time for a woman to really step up into the spotlight, I almost feel like it's crickets,” Elana Doyle, a 26-year-old Republican contemplating a run for office, told the Times. "I admire that about the Democrats, how they embrace women and they put them on a pedestal and they say, 'We need you.'"
Democrats don't put women on a pedestal, but they do seem much more willing to treat women as equals who are capable of both running for office and being in leadership. And they recognize that actively recruiting and supporting women candidates helps overcome the structural barriers many women face to running for office.
After the 2018 midterms, the number of Democratic women in the House skyrocketed while the number of Republican women plummeted from 23 to a mere 13. While Republican leadership is dominated by men, Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and 10 additional women are in leadership roles. Further, five women are chairs of committees, including Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Republican women who are running for office told the Times that Democrats do a much better job supporting women in primaries. Democratic organizations "blanket all the [primary] races with money because they don't know who's going to rise to the top, and they want to make sure that an up-and-coming talent doesn't die on the vine for lack of money," said Ruth Papazian, a Republican challenging Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). "Republicans don't do that."
The Times pointed out that EMILY's List, a liberal organization focused on electing pro-choice women, spent $100 million in 2018 alone. In contrast, a conservative organization focused on electing women has spent just $6.5 million over the past 20 years.
Republican women face more challenges than simply lack of funding.
First off, women generally are not supportive of Trump, who bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has been accused by almost two dozen women of crimes ranging from sexual harassment to rape.
Beyond Trump, the Republican Party is hostile to policies benefiting women's rights. When the Violence Against Women Act came up for a vote in April, 157 Republicans in the House voted against it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't even bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate.
The man in charge of leading Republican efforts to retake the House in 2020, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), said it was a "mistake" for the party to focus on electing more women. The Republican in charge of recruiting more women to run in 2020, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), decided to retire rather than run for office herself.
After seeing organizations like EMILY's List spend years cultivating women leaders across the country, Republican women want their party to act more like Democrats. The party should be "reflective of everybody in this country," Kara Webster, a Republican who is thinking about running for office in New Jersey, told the Times. At the moment, 90% of Republicans in the House are white men.
As long as Republicans continue to embrace Trump and Republican leaders brush off efforts to invest in women, Webster may be waiting a long, long time for her wish to come true.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.